The northeast corner of New Zealand’s south island is a sunny paradise for all. For lovers of wine, luxury and the ocean, you can’t go wrong. Start in Canterbury with your Christchurch Airport car rental and make your way north through mountains, vineyards and superb coastlines.
Driving north from Christchurch, the biggest city in the South Island, you’ll travel through the rolling Waipara Valley. This top notch wine region is growing fast and there’s no shortage of places to stop for a lazy lunch and glass of vino.
Veer inland towards the Southern Alps next as you make a beeline for Hanmer Springs. This is a must visit if you’re in this part of the country. The thermal pools here are renowned; make the most of the award winning spa against the background of mountains and forest. Hanmer Springs village also offers golfing, horse riding, hiking and biking.
Drive back out toward the coast. Kaikoura lies on the Pacific Ocean and is a mecca for all things marine. Book a whale watching tour or fishing charter (trips leave daily) at any time of the year, or plan to go seal, dolphin or albatross viewing. The Shoreline Walk is a route that’s sure to yield wildlife sightings.
Be sure to enjoy some fresh local seafood – crayfish and mussels are excellent delicacies in Kaikoura – at one of the local pubs or restaurants, or cook your own catch.
From Kaikoura continue on northwards. As you enter the Marlborough region you will again be coming into a world class wine area. Marlborough is world famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, which you must sample along with local greenshell mussels. You may enjoy a wine tour to get the most out of the local vineyards.
The views of Queen Charlotte Sound and Pelorus Sound as you round the coast are beautiful. Over the hills lie the Nelson Tasman region, one of the sunniest in New Zealand. Explore the pristine beaches, art galleries and excellent restaurants around Nelson. Outdoorsy types may venture further afield to the Abel Tasman national park, ideal for kayaking, swimming and hiking.